The Billboard first announced Call the Police as a Summer replacement for Amos 'n' Andy on May 31st 1947
Rinso took Gosden and Correll's Amos 'n' Andy to CBS during the Fall Season of 1948. The Summer 1949 Season of Call the Police followed suit.
KFH, Wichita spot ad for Call for the Police 1949 premiere from June 4th 1949
WGAN spot ad for Call the Police from June 5th 1949
The Lever Brothers Company was one of the Golden Age of Radio's largest and most prolific sponsors from the era's inception. Throughout the era Lever Bros. promoted its soap and detergent lines of Rinso, Lifebuoy, Lux, Swan, and Dove, its Pepsodent tooth powder and toothpaste, its Spry shortening, its Lipton Tea, and its Trim Hair Tonic over virtually every significant Radio genre of the era:
- 1930 Rinso Talkie Time
- 1931-1934 The Goldbergs
- 1934 Bring 'em Back Alive
- 1934 Eddy Duchin
- 1934-1937 Amos 'n' Andy
- 1934-1955 Lux Radio Theatre
- 1935 Al Pearce and His Gang
- 1936 Laugh with Ken [Murray]
- 1936-1939 The Rinso Program
- 1936-1946 Big Sister
- 1937-1952 Big Town
- 1938 Candid Woman
- 1938 Mickey Mouse Theater
- 1938 The Get Together Program
- 1938-1948 The Pepsodent Program
- 1939 Mr. District Attorney
- 1939 The Lifebuoy Program
- 1939-1949 Man About Hollywood
- 1940 Meet Mr. Meek
- 1940-1942 Grand Central Station
- 1941 A Date with Judy
- 1941 Bringing Up Father
- 1941 Hollywood Premiere
- 1941 Saturday Morning Vaudeville Theater
- 1941 Well, I Swan
- 1942 Bright Horizon
- 1942 Mayor of the Town
- 1942 The Bob Burns Show
- 1942 Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou
- 1943 Broadway Bandbox
- 1943 Life with Fred Brady
- 1943 The Fred Brady Show
- 1943 The Johnny Mercer Music Shop
- 1943-1950 Amos 'n' Andy
- 1944 Boston Blackie
- 1944 Charlie Chan
- 1944 The Charlotte GreenWood Show
- 1944-1946 The Man Called X
- 1945 A Woman's Life
- 1945 Dunninger the Mentalist
- 1945 Philo Vance
- 1945 The Joan Davis Show
- 1946 Kiss and Make Up
- 1946 The Jack Kirkwood Show
- 1947 Hop Harrigan
- 1947-1949 Call the Police
- 1947-1949 My Friend Irma
- 1948 Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories
- 1948 Junior Miss
- 1948 Meet Corliss Archer
- 1948 The Whistler
- 1949 Breakfast with Burrows
- 1949-1954 Broadway Is My Beat
- 1950 Granby's Green Acres
- 1950 Hit the Jackpot
- 1950 Too Many Crooks
- 1951 Joyce Jordan, M.D.
- 1951 Lone Journey
- 1951 Meet Millie
- 1952 House Party
- 1952 Romance
- 1953 The Crime Files of Flamond
Englishman William H. Lever and his brother James entered the soap manufacturing business in 1885 with their acquisition of a sizeable soap works located in Warrington, a borough of Cheshire, England located on the banks of the Mersey River. By 1888 the Lever brothers and chemist William Watson were shipping 450 tons per week of their free-lathering 'Sunlight Soap' line.
Lever Bros. various product lines were responsible for the sponsorship of over 100 popular Golden Age Radio programs
Lever Brothers expanded into the United States and Canada by 1900, marketing their Vim, Lifebuoy and Lux lines of bar soap and soap flakes. One of the first genuinely multinational corporations, the international parent company became Unilever in 1930 in a merger with the Dutch company Margarine Unie. The American arm of the international conglomerate remained Lever Brothers Company.
Rinso, Lever Bros. popular laundry soap product, promoted its Solium 'Sunlight' ingredient during both its sponsorship of the long running Amos 'n' Andy series and the Call the Police Summer replacement seasons between 1947 and 1949
Rinso's summer replacement for Amos 'n' Andy--1947 - 1949
"Between you and the evil outside the law . . . between you and the housebreaker, the kidnapper or murderer . . . stands the policeman of your community. He gives up his sleep that you may sleep, unafraid. He gives up his safety that you may be safe. And, if need be, he gives up his life to protect yours. "
From the mythical 'Ashland Police files,' Call the Police presented a weekly dramatization underscoring the dedicated Police forces throughout the U.S. and their unceasing efforts to fight all manner of cime and keep Mr. Average American safe and secure. Distinguished and versatile character actor Joseph Julian--a favorite of Norman Corwin--portrayed Radio's first Police Commissioner Bill Grant in the NBC production, followed by George Petrie in the 1948 CBS production. Joan Tompkins served as Joseph Julian's Criminal Psychologist aide, Libby Tyler and lovely Amzie Strickland portrayed Libby Tyler with George Petrie.
Emulating several other crime programs of the era, the close of each episode of Call the Police was reserved for tributes to a local or regional Police official of the era, generally the officer responsible for the successful prosecution of the crime(s) portrayed in each episode.
From the August 27th 1947 edition of the Oakland Tribune:
By JOHN CROSBY
The new rules laid down in the National Association of Broadcasters code, which has not yet been adopted, specify that crime must not be frivolous or calloused, I read in "Variety," the house organ of the amusement industry. Those two words take in a lot of territory and a lot of crime shows. However, I should like to suggest one more wordhypocritical. There are a great many shows on the air which make an elaborate pretense of upholding and glorifying the forces of law and order while actually providing as pretty an exhibit of gore as could be found outside Madame Tussaud's waxworks.
"Call The Police" (KPO, 8 p.m. Tuesdays) is possibly the worst example I know, though it gets some heavy competition from Mr. District Attorney." At the opening of "Call The Police," the sponsors make a deep genuflection in the direction of police departments everywhere, pointing out that the boys expend a great deal of time and effort and occasionally lives to protect our property. Then the hero, Police Commissioner Grant, takes the stage. Commissioner Grant a boyish voiced, tough-talking hombre, bears no resemblance to any police commissioner I ever met. I've only met two, Grover Whalen and the late Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine, and while they were strikingly dissimilar I feel confident neither of them would behave anything like Mr. Grant. Grant is followed about doggedly and lovingly by his pretty secretary, another practice I don't remember ever having heard of though it is common on the radio.
SPAT, SPAT, SPAT!
I should like to select just one program at random. I really mean at random too. They are all equally bad. In the first few moments, there was a brutal slugging. A short time later a man was murderedspat spat spat. (They seem to have developed a new sound effect on this show, not loud out vicious.) In the second actthey have acts on this show, each one terminated by tumultuous and quite unjustifiable applauseanother man bit the dust-spat spat. In the third act, there was a final spat spat spat--no one gets just one slug on this showand down went a third man.
This vigorous homicide is knitted together with the weirdest collectiton of noises which, ever represented itself as human speech. Here's a sample:
"Put ya hands up."
"Who are you?"
"What ya doin' here?"
"Come to bake a cake."
"You're a sweet girl."
"My mother thought so."
That's a girl speaking. The men, of course, are much tougher. "Take da sawbuck an' clam up," "Drop dead, ya double-crossin' bimbo." "Ya want we should mug him up?" "Nah, no muggin'. Dis job calls for murder." That sort of thing is the accepted dialect of the underworld but a half hour of it is wearisome and there is so much of it on the air now that its influence is hardly elevating.
A letter arrived here the other day in which a mother complained that her six-year-old son consistently advised his grandmother to "shut ya face, ya big ape," a fetching phrase he'd picked off the radio.
Let's get back to that code. If it's ever adopted, "Call The Police" will surely come under some scrutiny and in the case of this show any changes whatsoever could hardly avoid improving it. Nevertheless, its doubtful whether codes ever do much more than add new regulations to the already regulation-ridden writers. Let's take a classic example: "I wanna see you bleed to death--slow--slow--." It's not a pretty line and would almost certainly come under the heading calloused. Yet there might be an occasion where such a line would be of highest literary quality, depending on what surrounded it north and south. In the end, the quality of radio shows will depend on judgment and common sense and no code can substitute for that.
Copyright, 1947, for The Tribune
From the June 17th 1948 edition of the Oakland Tribune:
By JOHN CROSBY
A serious attempt to analyze the causes behind criminal behavior is made in a new program entitled "Criminal Casebook" (ABC, 8:30 p.m. EDT Thursdays). It's a rather unusual whodunit with the emphasis on the psychological motives of crime rather than on gunfire between cops and robbers. In the words of Edwin J. Lukas, director of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, which co-operates in preparing it: "The program presents the thesis that, although a crime takes but a moment to commit, it requires a lifetime of disturbed emotional preparation."
"We here at the society," declares Lukas, "feel that dramatizing the reason for anti-social behavior and highlighting the danger signals inherent in early emotional disturbances are far more important than detailing crime commission and capture.'' I don't suppose anyone will disagree with that theory but, at the same time "Criminal Casebook" is not, I'm afraid, destined for wide popularity. Good is not rewarded and evil punished as is customary in most whodunits. In fact, the two are hopelessly intermingled.
SERVES PRISON TERM
In the first of these dramatizations of the lives and crimes of actual people, a boy with an excessive love for his mother got into trouble when he tried to procure five dollars for her. His method for doing this, highly illegal in this state, was to pry open the coin box of a pay telephone. Later, still trying to get money for his mother, he got involved in a stickup, got caught and served four years in prison.
It was a sordid and rather pitiful tale, not much different in outline from many another whodunit but wholly different in tone. Following the dramatization, the actual ex-con was interviewed by Lukas. He spoke wistfully of his early ambitions to be a doctor, thwarted by lack of money. He had learned "exactly nothing" behind bars and was still, I gathered, in pretty much of an emotional mess. Lukas wound up the broadcast by blaming the boy's plight on his Oedipus complex. That sounds dangerously over-simplified, but I think Lukas and the program deserve an A for honest effort.
Now that summer is almost here, we're in for a lot of intense research on crime, not all of it as noteworthy as "Criminal Casebook." One bad penny which turns up every summer is "Call the Police" (NBC, 9:30 p.m., EDT, Tuesdays), the summer replacement for "Amos 'n' Andy." This, according to press release, is a dramatization, of "the crime detection methods of the modern city police force" and also intended as a pat on the back for the nation's cops. ("He gives up his sleep and sometimes his life to protect you.")
The crime detection methods are about as authentic as Charlie Chan's number one son and for that very reason, "Call the Police" will probably be much more popular than "Criminal Casebook." The hero is Police Commissioner Bill Grant, a wise-cracking, romantically inclined individual who takes his girl friend Libby along on his criminal investigations, a common practice among police commissioners. The plots move just short of the speed of sound and are wildly complicated, though, I'm forced to admit, fairly ingenious.
I was morbidly fascinated by one episode which dealt with a knife-throwing murderess. She was uncannily accurate, usually landing them spang in the middle of the victim's heart, until she started pitching her knives at Commissioner Bill Grant. On him she inflicted only a painful but superficial chest wound. Buck fever, I guess. There was another one in which the sole clue was a popular nursery rhyme. Against a clue like that, the "crime detection methods of the modern city police force" are usually powerless, but then the average modern city isn't gifted with Commissioner Bill Grant, who among other things is quite a hand with the ladies.
At the end of each of these programs, the sponsor presents an award for valor to a real live cop, an attempt, I imagine, to put the program in the category of good works.
Copyright, 1948, for The Tribune
Cast photos from the 1949 Summer Season of Call the Police (l. to r.): George Petrie, Amzie Strickland, Robert Dryden, and announcer Hugh James.
As might be surmised from the two John Crosby reviews above and the two The Billboard reviews below, it would appear that it was the second summer season of Call the Police that both parties preferred. That should take nothing away from the fine actor Joseph Julian. Rather it was in all likelihood a reflection of the level of writing and direction for each season. Both Julian and Petrie were well-respected, effective actors.
1947 Billboard Review of the first Summer Season of Call for the Police
1948 Billboard Review of the second Summer Season of Call for the Police
|RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
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